U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have seen an influx of applications filed by immigrants across Illinois, Wisconsin and the United States who were seeking citizenship within the last year, and the reason for the increase may be two-fold. According to CNBC, part of the uptick may be attributed to the upcoming inauguration of a president who made no secret of his plans to take a hard line on immigration. Part of the increase, too, may be attributed to the fact that the fees associated with doing so increased considerably as of Dec. 23, 2016.  

While USCIS asserts that the application fee increase will cover administrative expenditures and processing costs while reducing fraud, immigration advocates fear it will make an already difficult and expensive process unattainable for undocumented immigrants, many whom already struggle financially. The application fee is now more than double what is used to be for some applicants.

Exactly how the fee increase will affect the immigrant population in the U.S. is unclear, but the Chicago Tribune reports that in Illinois, immigrant numbers are declining. While part of decrease may be due to the fact that some undocumented immigrants have gone on to obtain legal citizenship, other factors, too, are coming into play.

Stronger border enforcement is another possible reason for the decline in Illinois’ immigrant population, of which about 71 percent is Mexican, and a lack of access to immigrant programs may also be a factor. A slowing economy and a lack of opportunities for gainful employment, too, are contributing to the decline.